Heavy cruisers are defined as having a main armament of 8" guns, the maximum set by treaty. Light cruisers had 6" guns, except a few were equipped with many 5" anti-aircraft guns as their primary armament. The treaty limit was 10,000 tons, so you will notice that light and heavy cruisers of the period were the same weight. When the treaty ended, heavy cruiser weights were increased and a battle cruiser class was authorized with 12" guns. Both types were commissioned in the later stages of the war.
The US had 37 cruisers at the start of the war (18 heavy and 19 light) to serve all ocean fronts. Ten cruisers (7 heavy and 3 light) were sunk and 38 new (6 heavy, 22 light, 8 anti-aircraft, 2 battle cruisers) were commissioned in time to participate in the war. Nine light cruiser hulls were used for CVL-light carriers. About fifty more cruisers were building at the end and did not participate. The last conventional gun cruiser was Newport News (CA-148) commissioned 29Jan49.
Northampton Class . 1930-31. 9- 8"/55 , 8- 5"/25 ; 9,050-9,300 tons ; 600 oa/569 wl feet ; 32.7 knots.
Six heavy cruisers: Northampton (CA-26), Chester (CA-27), Louisville (CA-28), Chicago (CA-29), Houston (CA-30), and Augusta (CA-31). Laid down 1928, commissioned mid 1930 to early 1931. With raised forecastle and all triple turrets. One turret was removed and the weight savings to provide more armor. Aircraft carried amidships. Six torpedo tubes.
Portland Class . 1932. 9- 8"/55 , 8- 5"/25 ; 9,950 tons, 610/582 feet ; 32.7 knots.
Two heavy cruisers: Portland (CA-33) and Indianapolis (CA-35). Authorized 1929 to bring the USN up to parity with the Royal Navy. laid down Feb 1930 and commissioned Feb 1933. The area of armor was reduced, but thickened over machinery spaces. Higher bridge, lighter masts, aircraft moved aft to reduce fire damage, no torpedo tubes.
New Orleans Class . 1934. 9- 8"/55 , 8- 5"/25 ; 9,950 tons ; 588/574 feet ; 32.7 knots.
Seven ships: New Orleans (CA-32), Astoria (CA-34), Minneapolis (CA-36), Tuscaloosa (CA-37), San Francisco (CA-38), Quincy (CA-39), and Vincennes (CA-44). Laid down in 1930-1933, completed Apr-Aug 1936 Similar to Portland Class. Welded construction allowed weight saving which went into additional armor plate.
Wichita . 1939. 9- 8"/55 ,8- 5"/38; 9,400 tons; 614/600 feet ; 32.5 knots.
One ship: Wichita (CA-45) - a successful prototype. Though started as a New Orleans class heavy crusier, she was completed as a modified Brooklyn class (CL) with 8" guns. Laid down Oct 1935, commissioned March 1939. and was still on shakedown when war broke out in Europe. She "showed the flag" in South America, and was in Iceland when Pearl Harbor brought us into a two-ocean war.
Baltimore Class . 1943-45. 9- 8"/55, 8- 5"/38 ; 13,600 ; 673/ feet ; 33 knots.
Fourteen ships, six of which saw WW2 duty: Baltimore (CA-68), Boston (CA-69), Canberra (CA-70), Quincy II (CA-71), Pittsburgh (CA-72), and St Paul (CA-73). The class is an enlarged and improved version of the experimental Wichita. The first four were laid down in mid-1941, before Pearl Harbor. The next ten in 1943. The first four were completed in mid to late-1943, the rest Dec 1944 thru 1945, too late to participate in the war.
Oregon City Class . Commissioned 1945. 9- 8"/55 ; 13,700 tons ; 673 feet ; 33 knots.
Three ships completed too late to see action. Single funnel, simplified superstructure.
Des Moines Class . Commissioned 1946- ; 9- 8"/55 ; 17,000 tons ; 673 feet ; 32 knots.
Four ships completed after the war:
Canceled Heavy Cruisers: CA-126 to CA-129, CA-137, CA-138, CA-140 to CA-143. CA149 to CA159.
Chester Class . 1908 . - scout cruiser 3,750 tons 2- 5" , 6- 3" guns ; 2 torpedo tubes.
Three ships: Chester (CL-1), Birmingham (CL-2), and Salem (CL-3). In service 1908 to 1921-23. Scrapped per treaty in 1930.
Denver Class . 1904-05. 3,200 tons; 10- 5" guns.
Six ships: CL-16 to CL-21. Removed from service 1921-31. Scrapped per treaty 1930-33.
Five Brooklyn Class Cruisers Sold To Other Countries After the War.
|Nashville (CL-43)||Chile||Capt Prat|
|Phoenix (CL-46)||Argentina||General Belgrado.||Sunk by Brit sub in Falklands War, 1982.|
|Boise (CL-47)||Argentina||Nueve de Julio|
Fargo Class . Commissioned 1945. 12- 6"/55 ; 10,000 tons ; 611/600 feet ; 33 knots.
Two ships: These were essentially Cleveland Class with single funnel and simplified superstructure. Both commissioned in early 1945, too late to see wartime service. Seven were canceled.
Canceled Light Cruisers: CL-84, CL-88, CL-94, CL-146, CL-147.
The needs of war required that Atlanta (CL-51) and Juneau (CL-52) participate in the first night action in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in which both light ships were sunk. Atlanta was scuttled the next day from her damage. The damaged Juneau was torpedoed during the withdrawal and went down in seconds. The other two ships were properly escorting carrier task groups: San Diego provided protection to Enterprise (CV-6) during that three-day battle. San Juan was escorting Saratoga (CV-3) to the South Pacific during that battle. San Diego went on earn 15 battle stars and was the first USN ship to enter Tokyo Bay on 27Aug45. Damaged twice early in the war, San Juan finished the war with 13 battle stars and also entered Tokyo Bay 27Aug45.
Oakland Class . Commissioned 1944. 12- 5"/38 , 28- 40 mm ; 6,000 tons ; 541 feet.
The second batch of anti-aircraft cruisers, the Oakland Class, arrived about two years later with six dual 5"/38 turrets and many 40mm and 20mm :
Four ships : Oakland (CL-95), Reno (CL-96), Flint (CL-97), and Tucson (CL-98). These provided anti-aircraft protection to carrier task groups.
Juneau Class . Commissioned in 1945-46. 12- 5"/38 ; 6,000 tons; 541 feet.
The third batch of anti-aircraft cruisers, completed after the war, continued with six dual 5"/38 turrets, but with four of the turrets lowered one deck, 24- 40mm guns, and with no torpedo tubes.
Three ships : Juneau II (CL-119), Spokane II (CL-120), and Fresno (CL-121).
The battle cruiser as a class had not fared well in WWI where, on the battle line, they were shown to be more vulnerable to damage than a battleship and without sufficient weight of broadside to sink enemy battleships. As an extra-heavy cruiser, they have been fast enough to chase down other cruisers.
Alaska and Guam arrived on the scene in 1945 after the Japanese battle fleet had been destroyed. They had sufficient speed to keep up with the fast carrier task force and they were used for shore bombardment. Their armor and anti-aircraft guns were useful during the kamikaze attacks towards the end of the war.
Canceled Battle Cruisers: CB-3 (84%) to CB-6.
Gray means completed too late to participate in the Pacific War.